House bill to end non-medical exemptions to vaccines in Oregon advances in Salem

    Oregon allows nonmedical exemptions to required vaccinations.

    SALEM, Ore. - A bill which "removes ability of parent to decline required immunizations on behalf of child for reason other than child's indicated medical diagnosis" moved out of the House Committee on Health Care Thursday and now goes to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Rep. Cheri Helt of Bend said.

    If approved by that committee, House Bill 3063 would move to a vote on the House floor.

    “This was an important step in the journey to protect student health in our schools. If passed by both chambers, this bill will save lives and will further guarantee the safety of our students.” Rep. Helt said. “It’s time to replace the discredited idea that these vaccines are dangerous and ineffective with scientifically grounded, fact-based public policy.”

    In a press release, Helt's office said:

    The bill would put an end to Oregon’s non-medical vaccination exemptions for attending public schools; and will ensure immunocompromised students are kept safe from easily preventable communicable diseases.
    Increasing rates of under vaccination in the Pacific Northwest have been spotlighted by the recent measles outbreak in Clark County, WA, which led Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency.
    Measles can spread rapidly and about 90 percent of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will become infected.

    Helt's fellow Republican Rep. Denyc Boles, who represents the Mid-Willamette Valley, opposes the bill.

    “We cannot run over the rights on which this country was founded in an effort to correct failed public health education and outreach efforts,” said Boles. “Our office received thousands of emails and hundreds of calls opposing HB 3063. Testimony presented by the medical community requiring mandatory vaccines for all families during hearings was mixed, with agency public health experts supporting it, and individual family practitioners, pediatricians, and parents pushing back on this sweeping legislation.”

    According to her office:

    Rep. Boles’ children are fully vaccinated. She believes in medical science’s ability to heal and eliminate disease. However, she has significant concern about this “one-size-fits all” mandate for both the vaccine itself and the vaccine schedule. Vaccines have been employed for decades, yet they still carry inherent risk to the individual, even though the population risk for contagious disease may decrease. While science has made strides in areas like oncology, where treatment is individualized to the patient’s genetic makeup, vaccines have not kept pace.

    “This legislation sets a dangerous precedent. One where parents are coerced into medical procedures or risk losing the right for their child to receive an education. By passing this policy, government is choosing to follow fear over freedom, and it is an alarming precedent to set,” said Boles.

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